‘Smooth sailing’ for DeKalb through coaching transition

Published: Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
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Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com DeKalb coach Matt Weckler during the first day of practice on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013.

DeKALB – The transition to a third coach in three years was smooth for the DeKalb football team by several accounts, but a grinding halt would not have been appreciated.

As much as new coach Matt Weckler wanted his team to shut out the possibility of a teachers strike from their minds, senior quarterback Jack Sauter couldn’t help but think about what would happen if the Barbs were forced to sit for the first week of the season.

“I was pretty worried because there was word going around that it was going to be pretty serious,” Sauter said. “I was trying not to worry too much about that, [instead thinking about] Friday night and being optimistic. I’m sure if it would’ve happened, we would have had to get something together, at least keep guys lifting, get guys doing stuff, because we wouldn’t have been allowed to be out here with Weckler.”

Luckily, the teachers’ union and district reached an agreement Saturday, and the contract officially was approved this week, ending the possibility that Friday’s game against Vernon Hills would be sacrificed.

Senior Tanner Pumphrey was relieved when he saw news of the agreement on Twitter, and that feeling swept through the DeKalb locker room.

“It would have been kind of hard to take that first loss like that and not being able to practice,” the linebacker said. “Everyone was pretty excited; everyone was telling each other. The first thing when we got to the locker room, everyone was talking about it.”

Returning from a 2-7 season, the Barbs have a new sense of optimism with the new staff, and the players appear to be buying in.

Weckler said he only needed a few days to institute his style and form of discipline. 

“Basically [it took] about two days,” he said. “Honestly, we were pretty structured, and we had a couple of meetings right away and then we had a summer camp right away in June right after they got done with school, and once we basically taught them the pace and the way we run practice, they bought in and they didn’t have time to do anything else.” 

The Barbs are thankful they still won’t have time to do anything else. 

“It’s been a pretty fluid transition, I would say. With the increased discipline and expectations, we’ve all adapted pretty quick,” Sauter said. “With a new coach, a new system, school starting, your first game, there’s already enough nervous energy and anxiety going on, so we didn’t need a delay in our season and a delay in our school, so I’m happy that it’s just smooth sailing from here.”

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